Henry Winkler Regrets Turning Down John Travolta Role In ‘Grease’ – ‘I Should Have Shut My Mouth’
Henry Winkler has admitted he was a "damn fool" to turn down the John Travolta role in the 1978 movie "Grease."
Henry Winkler, who is best known for playing Fonzie on “Happy Days,” is admitting that he made a huge mistake when he turned down the role in the classic movie Grease that ultimately went to John Travolta.
Actor Henry Winkler on turning down lead role in Grease: "I go home, I say no, and I have a Diet Coke. John Travolta goes home, and has done the movie, and buys a plane." pic.twitter.com/l3IaNcX7ZA
— CNN (@CNN) November 13, 2022
‘I Am A Damn Fool’
Daily Mail reported that Winkler, 77, explained that he turned down the role of Danny Zuko in Grease because he thought the greaser character was too much like Fonzie, and he feared being typecast.
“Will I ever find something with as much impact as The Fonz? How will I know, I’m not getting any offers,” Winkler told CNN.
Winkler went on to admit that he refused the role of Danny.
“I am a damn fool. I only realized years afterwards. I thought, ‘I’ve played the Fonz, I don’t want to do it again. It’s already happened,'” he said. “I’m already typecast, I should have just shut up and had a really good time making that movie.”
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“I go home, I say no, and I have a diet Coke. John Travolta, who has done the movie, goes home and buys a plane,” Winkler lamented.
Henry Winkler watches Henry Winkler jump the shark, and is asked if he knew when he jumped the shark, he jumped the shark. Get it? pic.twitter.com/UsGcvjVvP6
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 12, 2022
Travolta Honors Olivia Newton-John
Travolta was indeed cast as Danny in Grease, starring in it alongside the late Olivia Newton-John, who sadly died of cancer earlier this year.
“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” Travolta wrote on social media after her death. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so much.”
“We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever!” he continued. “Your Danny, your John!”
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People Magazine reported that despite turning Grease down, Winkler has had a decades-long career in Hollywood that has seen him be nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards and nine Primetime Emmy Awards, winning the latter award for his work on the TV show “Barry” back in 2018.
Winkler Talks ‘Happy Days’
During this same interview, Winkler was asked how he managed to transform into the “epitome of cool” when he played The Fonz.
“Because I trained for many, many years to be an actor, and I got to play somebody. I wasn’t somebody who I wanted to be,” Winkler replied, according to WRAL. “And it was so much fun. They are still my family. All of the people who have survived are still very, very close. We are incredibly friendly.”
John Lennon with the cast of “Happy Days” 1974. Photo by May Pang pic.twitter.com/1n8ZSUWJX0
— Classic Rock In Pics (@crockpics) November 13, 2022
Winkler went on to say that the “Happy Days” producers initially envisioned Fonzie as being “a taller Italian kid.”
“And they got you know, this short Jew from New York, but all I did Chris, all I did was change my voice,” Winkler remembered. “I introduce myself as Henry, and then as I started to do it, something overtook me … And I changed my voice like this and it unleashed me.”
The Fonz pic.twitter.com/6Q9yXaUPWM
— Jeff Goodwin (@jrg393) November 10, 2022
Winkler said that doing this led to him becoming braver in his acting, despite the fact that in real life, he felt like “a bowl of jello that had not congealed yet.”
Though he regrets turning down Grease, Winkler has still had a greatly successful career in Hollywood, so he can’t kick himself too much! In the end, everything worked out as it was meant to, because it’s hard to imagine Grease without Travolta in it.